How to use BY
BY can be a preposition and an adverb.
- They lived in a small house by the road. (preposition).
- Clive was passing by the department store. (adverb)
Here are 10 different uses of BY:
- By as a means of transport
- By to show how something is done
- By to show how something happens
- By with adjectives
- By with time expressions
- By meaning “next to”
- By with gerund
- By for measurements and amounts
- By with reflexive pronoun
- By with passive
By as a means of transport
We can use BY to say how people travel.
- People in London usually commute by train.
- Shall we go by car or by bus?
- They went to America by sea.
By to show how something is done
- Can I pay by credit card?
- We’ll contact you by email.
- Would you send us the proposal by fax?
By to show how something happens
- I met my high school teacher by accident.
- Sorry, I took your phone by mistake.
- Stuart became a musician by chance.
By with adjectives
- Sara was impressed by the sheer size of the temple.
- He was delighted by the news.
- Everybody in the courtroom was shocked by the evidence.
By with time expressions
We can use BY with a time expression such as tomorrow, next week/month, etc. for deadlines.
- I’m supposed to finish this report by Monday.
- Milly, make sure you get home by 10.
- We’re going away on Friday and we’ll be back by the end of February.
By meaning “next to”
- Your bag is in the hall by the door.
- Michael was standing by his wife in the picture.
- There is a nice Italian restaurant by the river.
By with gerund
We can use by with a gerund to say how something is done.
- He makes a living by working in an office.
- You can get fit by doing exercise regularly.
- Mira wants to broaden her horizons by travelling.
By for measurements and amounts
We can use by to talk about measurements and amounts.
- My room is four meters by five meters.
- These people are paid by the hour.
- The price of oil increased by 3%.
By with a reflexive pronoun
We can use by with the reflexive pronoun meaning “alone”.
- I prepared the party all by myself.
- You shouldn’t be walking by yourself at night. I’ll give you a lift.
- They spent all weekend by themselves.
By with passive
We use by in passive sentences to say who is the doer of the action.
- The book was written by James Joyce.
- The theatre was opened by the president himself.
- The photo was taken by our famous photographer.
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